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Icebreaking operations
on the Saguenay River
DFO  N. Letendre

Every year, at the very beginning of the winter season, the Canada Coast Guard deploys an icebreaker in the Saguenay River sector. This winter, the task of escorting commercial vessels transiting through the area has been assigned to the CCGS Amundsen.

Because of the usual cold temperatures in this sector, particularly in February and March, icebreaking operations become more intense and complicated to take into account ice conditions and the manoeuvrability limits of escorted vessels.

In March, the Canadian Coast Guard will free and clear the ice in the Saguenay River. Day and night, the CCGS Amundsen will be assigned to break up the ice pack so unescorted commercial vessels can reach the ports of Saguenay (Grande Anse) and Port-Alfred (La Baie) – two major ports for the transit of raw materials, including bauxite and alumina. Icebreaking activities will continue upriver as far as Saint-Fulgence.

The coordination of icebreaking activities here is crucial: the crew aboard the icebreaker assigned to this area must be able to finish their tasks quickly so they can respond to requests for icebreaking services from around Quebec. During this busy period, there are many overlapping icebreaking needs and requests. Consider, for instance, the need to provide assistance to shipping in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, supervise the seal hunt, open the seaway, clear the ice from small harbours on the Lower North Shore and to monitor the movement or disappearance of shoals, etc.

Through its icebreaking activities, the Canadian Coast Guard assures the safety and efficiency of marine traffic and prevents the flooding that could be caused by ice conditions in flood-prone areas.

Spring Icebreaking on the Saguenay River
Notice of Public Interest – March 2, 2010

Nathalie Letendre, Communications
Captain Sylvain Bertrand, Canadian Coast Guard